Federal Support for Early Childhood Education in the New Administration and Congress
America’s greatest resource is its people; their creativity, skills, drive, and productivity. Developing that resource starts at birth, and the foundation for its strength is built in the first five years. Loving families and quality early childhood education help parents and caregivers provide their children with the skills they need to succeed in life.
All children need high-quality early childhood development, but low-income children are the least likely to get it. More than a third of Americans living in poverty are children under the age of six (15.5 million children in 2014) and less than half of low-income children have access to high-quality early learning programs. The access gap is particularly acute in the years from birth to age three, when children’s brains are developing most rapidly, and stand to benefit the most from high-quality early learning experiences.
Many states and communities are working to do their part by investing in quality systems and effective local delivery. However, a reimagined partnership with the federal government is necessary to serve all the children who need a strong start in life and to ensure all children have the fundamental opportunity to enter kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed. This can be achieved by establishing a comprehensive federal early childhood education approach that supports and grows state and local innovation with the delivery of high-quality, affordable, early childhood education from birth through age five.
This vision to create a well-financed federal continuum of care is predicated by public demand for the new administration and Congress to work together to achieve concrete solutions. Ninety-percent of voters want Congress and the next president to work together to make quality early childhood education more accessible and affordable to low- and middle-income families.
See the one-pager of the First Five Years Fund’s Policy Framework below.